Mon, 25 Sep 2023

London [UK], June 1 (ANI): Former Australian batting great Ricky Ponting said that Virat Kohli coming back to form is an "ominous warning" for Australia ahead of India's ICC World Test Championship final against Australia, which will start at The Oval from June 7 onwards.

He also backed young, rising star Shubman Gill to fire big, saying that he has some "serious class".

The batting stalwarts of India may hold the keys to their hopes in the ICC World Test Championship Final, but Ricky Ponting has backed one of the young guns to shine.

According to Ponting, Cheteshwar Pujara has scored more Test runs and tonnes against Australia than any other team and can use that record to play a critical role in the ICC World Test Championship Final.

The dependable No.3 batter has already amassed 2033 runs and five centuries in 24 Tests against Australia and will be critical to India's chances when the teams meet in the World T20 Final on June 7.

Virat Kohli is seen as the other key to India's chances in the decider, especially now that he has returned to form and had scored a confident 186 against Australia in the fourth Test in March.

"The Australian team will be talking about Virat, no doubt about it, and they will be talking about Pujara. They are the two," Ponting said on The ICC Review.

"Pujara has been a thorn in their side a lot in the past, and in Australia, and this wicket will potentially be a lot more like an Australian pitch. They know that they will have to get him early. They also know that Virat over the last few weeks is probably just about back to his absolute best, albeit in T20 cricket.""He told me that the feeling he has getting right now is that he is almost back to his best, and that is an ominous warning for the Australians going into a one-off game," concluded Ponting.

Virat had a great IPL 2023 season, in 14 matches of IPL 2023, he has scored 639 runs at an average of 53.25 and a strike rate above 139. He has scored two centuries and six fifties this season, with best score of 101. He is the third-highest run-scorer in the league so far.

In international cricket in 2022, he has scored 724 runs so far in 13 matches, 15 innings at an average of 51.71. He has scored three centuries and a half-century, with the best score of 186.

While Ponting named skipper Rohit Sharma as one of the batters India will need to influence the WTC Final at The Oval, he also predicted that another opener would have an impact on the outcome.

Shubman Gill was chosen for the final two Tests of the recent four-match Border-Gavaskar Trophy battle, and he pressed his claims for a spot in the WTC Final with a fine 128 in Ahmedabad.

The 23-year-old made his Test debut in 2020 on India's tour of Australia, scoring 259 runs at an average of 51.8, but has yet to establish himself at the top of the order.

With KL Rahul out of the WTC Final due to injury, this could be Gill's chance to shine and make his mark in a high-stakes match.

"He looks like a terrific young guy. He has got that bit of attitude about him as well. He has got a bit of swagger. He has some serious class," said Ponting.

"That sort of front foot pull shot that he plays against the fast bowlers will be a shot that he will probably need against this Australian attack," added the Aussie great.

Gill won the 'Orange Cap' in IPL 2023. In 17 matches, he scored 890 runs at an average of 59.33 and at a strike rate of 157.80. He scored three centuries and four fifties in IPL 2023, with best score of 129.

India's squad for WTC final: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, KS Bharat (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Mohd. Shami, Mohd. Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat, Ishan Kishan (wk).

Standby players: Yashasvi Jaiswal, Mukesh Kumar and Suryakumar Yadav. (ANI)

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